Tunnel upgrade gives direct access from Kildare to Dublin
THE renovation of a 138-year-old railway tunnel under the Phoenix Park will allow commuters from Kildare travel directly into the heart of the Dublin as early as next year.
Until now, passengers from Kildare were forced to alight at Heuston Station on the western fringe of the capital, and make their way several kilometres by other means into the centre.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed a €13.5 million upgrade of the Victorian Phoenix Park tunnel will see new direct services to Connolly, Tara Street, Pearse Street and Grand Canal Dock stations next autumn.
"For the first time, commuters on the popular Kildare suburban rail line will have frequent services directly into the heart of the south city business district," he said.
"This will provide an attractive alternative for private motorists who currently commute into the city along the congested N7 corridor."
Upgrade works are continuing on the 700-metre underground route which has been used in recent years for out-of-service trains, travelling between Heuston and Connolly.
Less frequently, it was used by special excursions, including from time to time services taking fans to Croke Park on All-Ireland final days or major concerts.
The redevelopment includes cleaning, masonry repairs, lighting, signage, telecoms, track renewal and signal relocation.
There will also be upgrade works at Drumcondra station, to include new ticket gates, and a new lift at Tara Street station.
It will result in a mix of services on the Kildare commuter line, including to Heuston and Grand Canal Dock.
David Franks, chief executive of Iarnrod Eireann, said the works will mean improved connections for new and existing commuters.
"They will be of particular benefit for those commuting between the Kildare line and the south city area served by Pearse and Grand Canal Dock, offering direct connections which are not currently available by public transport," he added.
At one time, the tunnel was used to allow direct services between Galway and Dundalk, Limerick and Drogheda and even Cork to Belfast.
It was also used for transporting west and southbound post from the mail boat docking at Dun Laoghaire.
The tunnel was built in just over two years by 1877 by the Great Southern and Western railway company, at a time of intense rivalry between privately owned operators in the capital.